Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-13-13

Find tons more to add to your To Read pile over at Teach Mentor Texts, hosted by Jen & Kelle!
I hope all the mommas had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday!  Nothing feeds the soul like being around your loving family.  I love you Mom!

Books I Read this Week:

Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee
Balzer + Bray, 2013
Fantasy
304 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

Benji is the smallest kid in his grade.  But it's not just his small stature that pegs him as an extreme underdog.  He also suffers from idiopathic epilepsi, which is to say that the seizures he has are due to an unknown origin.  The danger of Benji having a seizure and possibly hitting his head without anyone around to help is a risk that his doctor wants to lessen.  Her ideas:  get a service dog that can sense the onset of the seizure, or wear a giant green padded helmet...everywhere.  We can guess what Benji wants, but his all powerful mom is not too keen on the dog idea.
Back at school it's a giant green helmet nightmare.  Bully Billy Thompson has a run-in with Benji that ultimately seals the deal on Benji getting his service dog.  Enter Elvis Pembroke IV, a giant Newfoundland that was trained to be the President's dog...or so he says.  That's right, he says things, to Benji, who can hear words instead of barks from Elvis's mouth.  Elvis takes himself very seriously and is highly disappointed to be appointed to Benji rather than the President.  But Elvis has his honor, and he takes on the task at hand of protecting Benji.
This story is full of new found friendships in unlikely places, where we learn that even the toughest and most put together people have their own struggles, and we have a heck of a lot of laughs along the way!  
I read an advanced copy, and I hope a slight issue of continuity on pages 185-186 is cleared up in the final printing.  Elvis says something that only Benji can hear, but another boy, Alex responds as though he knew what Elvis said. 
 I've got kids already begging for this book, they've seen me reading it for a couple of weeks, and I've told them just enough to hype them up. 

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt Children's Books, 2012
Fantasy
296 pages
Recommended for grades 7+
This is another title you will find on the 2013-2014 Maine Student Book Award List.  I listened to the audio book, and I must tell you, it was a real treat!  Don't be fooled by the title into imagining a sword wielding dragon-slayer on the hunt all through the book, it is far from what you'll find.  My favorite character...the Quarkbeast.  Quark!

Rosie's Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Candlewick Press, 2013
Fantasy
40 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

What child isn't burdened by the worries their parents voice over financial troubles?  Rosie is among the many that meander off to bed with that unfortunate knowledge.  When she dreams of a magical horse taking her away to find treasure she isn't the only one living a dream.  Her collection of icy pop sticks are living out their dream of transforming into something more than used up icy pop sticks.  And in the morning we ask ourselves...was it a dream?

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
Fantasy, perhaps
40 pages
Recommended for grades 1+

You know I was excited to get this bad boy.  Snicket, Klassen, I love them.  The dark...not so much.  I can totally relate to Lazlo here.  When the lights flicker and the power goes out I...freeze.  Like a weirdo I don't move a muscle, waiting for the lights to snap back on.  I blame it on too many horror movies in high school and college.  But this simple text brings us to the dark being a living entity, sharing a large creaky house with Lazlo and his family, although we never meet the family.
Reading this to my third graders one shouted out, this is scary, little kids shouldn't read this!  Hehe, I love it when a kid gets so wrapped up in a story.  But in all fairness, Snicket and Klassen did a fine job at brining the creep factor to this book.  And in the end...well, you'll just have to read to find out what happens in the end!



Wilfred by Ryan Higgins
Dial, 2013
Fantasy
32 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

I just had an amazing experience with my third graders, comparing and contrasting Wilfred and The Giving Tree.  I plan to share that in the future.  What I'll tell you now:
This book is a keeper!  I was hooked by the art work, and then won over by the storyline.  The most wonderfully amazing part is that after requesting the book from the library I realized Ryan Higgins will be visiting with my students in June!  We are psyched!  More to come on this story later, perhaps after we've met with Ryan.  I will let you know if he is as cool as his book ;)

I'm Currently Reading:


I'm Currently Listening to:


On Deck:



Thanks for stopping by!  Share your thoughts and win a cookie!  Actually, share your thoughts and get your own cookie.  



12 comments:

  1. My 4th graders said the same thing about THE DARK. ;-) The Last Dragonslayer looks really good! I may check it out on audio. I'm excited to read The Platypus Police Squad. LOVE the Hattie books!!

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    1. I'm seeing Platypus Police Squad getting a lot of good attention...but it does look kind of odd! The reader for Dragonslayer has a British accent and reads the book wonderfully! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Hi there Nicole! I'm jealous! I've been wanting to get my hands on The Dark for a while now. We still don't have it in our libraries here in Singapore, unfortunately. I own quite a few Jasper Fforde novels but haven't gotten around to reading them all yet. I'm intrigued by this new series - would you know how many books he plans to have for this series? Interesting concept. Thanks for sharing all these.

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    1. Hy Myra,
      Can't get The Dark?! Bummer! I don't know how many books are planned for Dragonslayer, but I did see one title that is more about the Quarkbeast, which I thought was very funny. Thanks for stoping by!

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  3. I love getting audiobook recommendations! I just ordered The Last Dragonslayer for my library collection! Have a great reading week.
    http://wp.me/pzUn5-1wd

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    1. Nice! Glad to share a good one :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. My students and I loved The Dark. I bought the audiobook for a couple of bucks online and it's totally worth it. Neil Gaiman is the perfect narrator. My students beg to listen to it over and over. It's really funny to hear them try to imitate his accent and delivery.

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    1. OK, now I have to buy the audio! It will be neat for them to hear Neil Gaiman read it, I'm sure he is amazing!! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  5. The Dark! What isn't to love? My students adored this title! Enjoy Hattie! I just read this second book over spring break and loved it. Wilfred looks delightful! Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Hi Carrie,
      I can't remember reading the first book, so I am going to hope this one stands alone for me. Wilfred is so cute, and how can you not love the illustrations?! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Wilfred looks awesome! I am going to have to check it out. As for Sasquatch, keep in mind that I do not read a ton of middle grade books. I may not be the most reliable judge. It's a great idea and I will look for in the series-I think they will get better. Now you have to tell me your thoughts when you are finished!

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  7. I really enjoyed visiting your blog. I got delightfully lost in your book reviews, and hope to hear your audio book, The Dark, this summer. You and Cathy did a great job with the video clips. Your student's work was amazing! It shows how much they enjoyed working on the topics they chose. Well done!!

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